BARE BASICS TO GET STARTED IN OFF-ROADING PART II
After spending some time on the trails and gaining experience, you will quickly start to understand the limits of yourself and your vehicle. You have added a fresh set of tires and have bought your recovery gear. What should be your next move? This will all depend on what direction you want to follow, but as you will see a lot of these overlap.
One of the first noticeable things you may see others purchase is the vehicle suspension. This raises the vehicle suspension and in a lot of cases is done to add a bigger size tire. It is a relatively easy starting point that brings creates a visual difference between a stock vehicle and yours. There are two main ways to do this: the first option consists of a body lift that varies on recommendation, or the second option is a suspension lift that lifts your vehicle’s suspension higher. You can change different components of your vehicle to suit your build with adjustments in ride and relative capacity. These adjustments will also help with arrival and departure angles when going over steep hills or coming back down a set of steps.
Adjustable shocks can also be changed with a simple turn of the switch. A stiffer ride when on the streets or to a softer touch for the offroad park and gravel roads. There are many companies to choose from for these adjustments. Some of the companies Southern Style Offroad suggests are the ones we currently carry, such as Dobinsons, Radflo, Total Chaos, or Toytech. Other great companies are Kings or Icon. They are seen as standards in the offroading community but are for those who are ready to commit to a higher price tag.
This all may seem a bit overwhelming with all the different options out there but fear not. We can help build that perfect suspension for you, contact us for a consultation.
Vehicle armor is one of the other items offroaders will often purchase because it is a visual product. Who doesn’t like showing off a brand new bumper while perched high on a mountain or actively crossing a river? These are perfect moments to capture and share on all your social media! From a protection standpoint, it can be an item that saves your life or protects the life of your vehicle. One of the first armor upgrades I purchased was a Southern Style Offroad front bumper. Being a member of the Southern Style Offroad team, I did purchase an SSO Slimline Hybrid Bumper for my Toyota Tacoma. Do not forget! We carry Slimline Hybrids for the 2016+ Tacomas, 2012-2015 Tacomas the 2014+ 4Runners, and 2014+ Tundras. I already had a rear recovery point on the truck. Due to the stock form of the truck, it had no true front recovery point. They offer tie-down locations which should not be used to recover from.
The Slimline Hybrid bumper is made here in Baton Rouge, LA. Our metal locally sourced American steel with 3/4” shackle mounts. All the bumpers are capable of 10,000 lb capacity winches. Optional bull bar and access holes for the winch. Something to consider is that it only weighs an extra 35-40lbs! Every pound counts. This would count as another additional tool for your toolbox should you ever need it. Offering the ability to add a winch can become invaluable, especially if you wheel a lot or tend to travel on your own. Being able to winch yourself out of a tight spot or help another person can make this piece worth its weight in gold. For those of you, like me, who have traveled on the outskirts of society know how limited or nonexistent communication can potentially be. It could be a very, very long walk to get help and then a costly ride back with a capable offroad recovery company. This will give you a little more clearance with your arrival angle to give your vehicle better frontal clearance.
There are different options for these. As I mention above for something low profile and we do offer Stage II High Clearance Protection for the 3rd Generation Tacomas and 2014+ 4Runners. This adds a high clearance on your front corners with a clean look. There are other options like those from ARB who want full frontal protection. They have a high front hoop and have an addition hop on either side to create a cage. While this adds a different type of protection it does add a lot more weight.
An underrated piece of protection is skid plates, but they come in two traditional materials: steel or aluminum. Not as glamorous for the gram, but they are well worth the investment. Both materials have pros and cons as most materials do. Steel can take a bashing but will add more weight to your vehicle than aluminum and will rust if not painted or not properly maintained. Aluminum is perfect for saving weight but it will come at a premium price. It is also notable that it will damage more easily than steel but can be hammered back into place.
You will see vehicles coming straight from the dealership with side steps or running boards. They serve a purpose, but that purpose is purely to give you a leg up into your ride. Sliders, on the other hand, can be used as steps, but are mainly there to protect the sides of your vehicle from taking a hit. They will take the brunt force when you slide into a tree or rock. The ones we make here at Southern Style Offroad have a kick at the end to push your vehicle away from the object you are hitting, clearing the rest of your vehicle to safety.